"Show me thy wound—oh, hell! 'tis through her heart!"
This line is quite unnecessary, and infers an obedience in displaying her wound which would be shocking; besides, as there is often a buffoon in an audience at a new tragedy, it might be received dangerously. The word "Jehovah" will certainly not be suffered on the stage.
In casting the parts I conclude Mrs. Yates, as women never cease to like acting young parts, would prefer that of Adelaide, though the Countess is more suitable to her age; and it is foolish to see her representing the daughter of women fifteen or twenty years younger. As my bad health seldom allows of my going to the theatre, I never saw Mr. Henderson but once. His person and style should recommend him to the parts of Raymond or Austin. Smith, I suppose, would expect to be Theodore; but Lewis is younger, handsomer, and, I think, a better actor; but you are in the right, Sir, in having no favourable idea of our stage at present.
I am sorry, Sir, that neither my talents nor health allow me to offer to supply you with Prologue and Epilogue. Poetry never was my natural turn; and what little propensity I had to it, is totally extinguished by age and pain. It is honour enough to me to have furnished the canons of your tragedy; I should disgrace it by attempting to supply adventitious ornaments. The clumsiness of the seams would betray my gouty fingers. I shall take the liberty of reading your play once more before I return it. It will be extraordinary indeed if it is not accepted, but I cannot doubt but it will be, and very successful; though it will be great pity but you should have some zealous friend to attend to it, and who is able to bustle, and see justice done to it by the managers. I lament that such a superannuated being as myself is not only totally incapable Of that office, but that I am utterly' unacquainted -with the managers, and now too retired to form new Connexions. I was still more concerned, Sir, to hear of your unhappy accident, though the bad consequences are past.
(372) now first published.
(373) Mr. Jephson's tragedy of The Count of Narbonne, founded on Walpole's Gothic story of the Castle of Otranto. It will be seen, that it was brought out, in the following year, With considerable success, at Covent Garden theatre. "On Friday evening" says Hannah More, in a letter to one of her sisters, "I went to Mr. Tighe's to hear him read Jephson's tragedy. 'Praise,' says Dr. Johnson, 'is a tribute which every man is expected to pay for the grant of perusing a manuscript;' and indeed I could praise without hurting my Conscience, for The Count of Narbonne has considerable merit; the language is very Poetical, and parts of the fable very interesting; the plot managed with art, and the characters well drawn. The love scenes I think are the worst: they are prettily written, and full of flowers, but are rather cold; they have more poetry than passion. I do not mean to detract from Mr. Jephson's merit by this remark; for it does not lessen a poet's fame to say he excels more in Painting the terrible, than the tender passions."-Memoirs, vol. i, P, 206.-E.
Letter 185 To Robert Jephson, Esq.(374) Berkeley Square, Jan. 27, 1780. (page 240)
I have returned Your tragedy, Sir, to Mr. Sheridan, after having read it again, and without wishing any more alterations than the few I hinted before. There may be some few incorrectnesses, but none of much consequence. I must -again applaud your art and judgment, Sir, in having made so rational a play out of my wild tale - and where you have changed the arrangement of the incidents, you have applied them to great advantage The Characters of the mother and daughter you have rendered more natural by giving jealousy to the mother, and more passion to the daughter. In short, you have both honoured and improved my outlines: my vanity is content, and truth enjoins me to do justice. Bishop Warburton, in his additional notes to Pope's works, which I saw in print in his bookseller's hands, though they have not yet been published, observed that the plan of The Castle of Otranto was regularly a drama(375) (an intention I am sure I do not pretend to have conceived; nor, indeed, can I venture to affirm that I had any intention at all but to amuse myself—no, not even a plan, till some pages were written). You, Sir, have realized his idea, and yet I believe the Bishop would be surprised to see how well you have succeeded. One cannot be quite ashamed of one's follies, if genius condescends to adopt, and put them to a sensible use. Miss Aikin flattered me even by stooping to tread in my eccentric steps. Her " Fragment," though but a specimen, showed her talent for imprinting terror. I cannot compliment the author of the " Old English Baron," professedly written in imitation, but as a corrective of The Castle of Otranto. It was totally void of imagination and interest, had scarce 'any incidents, and, though it condemned the marvellous, admitted a ghost. I suppose the author thought a tame ghost might come within the laws of probability. You alone, Sir, have kept within nature, and made superstition supply the place of phenomenon, yet acting as the agent of divine justice—a beautiful use of bigotry.
I was mistaken in thinking the end of the first act deficient. The leaves stuck together, and, there intervening two or three blank pages between the first and second acts, I examined no farther, but concluded the former imperfect, which on the second reading I found it was not.
I imagine, Sir, that the theatres of Dublin cannot have fewer good Performers than those of London; may I ask why you prefer ours? Your own directions and instructions would be of great advantage to your play; especially if you suspect antitragic prejudices in the managers. You, too, would be the best judge of the rehearsal of what might be improvements. Managers will take liberties, and often curtail necessary speeches, so as to produce nonsense. Methinks it is unkind to send a child, of which you have so much reason to be proud, to a Foundling Hospital.
(374) NOW first printed.
(375) Bishop Warburton's panegyric on the Castle of Otranto appears in a note to the following lines in Pope's imitation of one of Horace's epistles:—
"Then peers grew proud in horsemanship t'excel, Newmarket's glory rose as Britain's fell' The soldier breathed the gallantries of France, And ev'ry flow'ry courtier Writ Romance."
"Amidst all this nonsense," says the Bishop, "when things were at the worst, we have been lately entertained with what I will venture to call, a masterpiece in the Fable; and of a new species likewise. The piece I mean is, The Castle of Otranto. The scene is laid in Gothic chivalry; where a beautiful imagination, supported by strength of judgment, has enabled the author to go beyond his Subject, and effect the full purpose of the ancient tragedy; that is, to purge the passions by Pity and terror, in colouring as great and harmonious as in any of the best dramatic writers."-E.
Letter 186 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Feb. 5, 1780. (PAGE 242)
I have been turning over the new second volume of the Biographia, and find the additions very poor and lean performances. The lives entirely new are partial and flattering, being contributions of the friends of those whose lives are recorded. This publication made at a time when I have lived to see several of my contemporaries deposited in this national temple of fame has made me smile, and reflect that many preceding authors, who have been installed there with much respect, may have been as trifling personages as those we have l(nown and now behold consecrated to memory. Three or four have struck me particularly, as Dr. Birch,(376) who was a worthy, good-natured soul, full of industry and activity, and running about like a young setting-dog in quest of any thing, new or old, and with no parts, taste, or judgment. Then there is Dr. Blackwell,(377) the most impertinent literary coxcomb upon earth—but the editor has been so just as to insert a very merited satire on his Court of Augustus.
The third is Dr. Brown, that mountebank, who for a little time made as much noise by his Estimate, as ever quack did by a nostrum. I do not know if I ever told you how much I was struck the only time I ever saw him. You know one object, and the anathemas of his Estimate was the Italian Opera; yet did I find him one evening, in Passion Week, accompanying some of the Italian singers, at a concert at Lady Carlisle's. A clergyman, no doubt, is not obliged to be on his knees the whole week before Easter, and music and a concert are harmless amusements; but when Cato or Calvin are out of character, reformation becomes ridiculous—but poor Dr. Brown was mad,(378) and therefore might be in earnest, whether he played the fool or the reformer.
You recollect, perhaps, the threat of Dr. Kippis to me, which is to be executed on my father, for my calling the first edition of the Biographia the Vindicatio Britannica—but observe how truth emerges at last! In his new volume he confesses that the article of Lord Arlington, which I had specified as one of the most censurable, is the one most deserving that censure, and that the character of Lord Arlington is palliated beyond all truth and reason"-words stronger than mine—yet mine deserved to draw vengeance on my father! so a Presbyterian divine inverts divine judgment, and visits the sins of the children on the parents!
Cardinal Beaton's character, softened in the first edition, gentle Dr. Kippis pronounces "extremely detestable"—yet was I to blame for hinting such defects in that work!—and yet my words are quoted to show that Lord Orrery's poetry was ridiculously bad. In like manner Mr. Cumberland, who assumes the whole honour of publishing his grandfather's Lucan, and does not deign to mention its being published at Strawberry Hill, (though by the way I believe it will be oftener purchased for having been printed there, than for wearing Mr. Cumberland's name to the dedication,) and yet he quotes me for having praised his ancestor in one of my publications. These little instances of pride and spleen divert me, and then make me reflect sadly on human weaknesses. I am very apt myself to like what flatters my opinions or passions, and to reject scornfully what thwarts them, even in the same persons. The more one lives, the more one discovers one's uglinesses in the features of others! Adieu! dear Sir; I hope you do not suffer by this severe season.
P. S. I remember two other instances, where my impartiality, or at least sincerity, have exposed me to double censure. You perhaps condemned my severity on Charles the First; yet the late Mr. Hollis wrote against me in the newspapers, for condemning the republicans for their destruction of ancient monuments. Some blamed me for undervaluing the Flemish and Dutch pictures in my preface to the Aedes Walpolianae. Barry the painter, because I laughed at his extravagances, says, in his rejection of that school, "But I leave them to be admired by the Hon. Horace Walpole, and such judges." Would not one think I had been their champion!
(376) See vol. i. p. 434, letter 177.-E.
(377) Dr. Thomas Blackwell, principal of the Marischal College in Aberdeen. Besides the above work, he wrote "An Enquiry into the Life and Writings of Homer," and "Letters concerning Mythology." He died in 1757.
(378) In September, 1766, he destroyed himself in a fit of insanity. See vol. ii. p. 232, letter 119, note 234.-E.
Letter 187 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Feb. 27, 1780. (PAGE 243)
Unapt as you are to inquire after news, dear Sir, you wish to have Admiral Rodney's victory confirmed.(379) I can now assure you, that he has had a considerable advantage, and took at least four Spanish men-of-war, and an admiral, who they say is since dead of his wounds. We must be glad of these deplorable successes—but I heartily wish we had no longer occasion to hope for the destruction of any of our species but, alas! it looks as if devastation would still open new fields of blood! The prospect darkens even at home—but, however you and I may differ in our political principles, it would be happy. if every body would pursue others with as little rancour. How seldom does it happen in political contests, that any side can count any thing but its wounds! your habitudes seclude you from meddling in our divisions; so do my age and my illnesses me. Sixty-two is not a season for bustling among young partisans. Indeed, if the times grow perfectly serious, I shall not wish to reach sixty-three. Even a superannuated spectator is then a miserable being; for though insensibility is one of the softenings of old age, neither one's feelings nor enjoyments can be accompanied with tranquillity. We veterans must hide ourselves in inglorious security, and lament what we cannot prevent; nor shall be listened to, till misfortunes have brought the actors to their senses; and then it will be too late, or they will calm themselves faster than they could preach—but I hope the experience of the last century will have some operation and check our animosities. Surely, too, we shall recollect the ruin a civil war would bring on, when accompanied by such collaterals as French and Spanish wars. Providence alone can steer us amidst all these rocks. I shall watch the interposition of its aegis with anxiety and humility. It saved us this last summer, and nothing else I am sure did; but often the mutual follies of enemies are the instruments Of Heaven. If it pleases not to inspire wisdom, I shall be content if it extricates us by the reciprocal blunders and oversights of all parties—of which, at least, we ought never to despair. It is almost my systematic belief, that as cunning and penetration are seldom exerted for good ends, it is the absurdity of mankind that often acts as a succedaneum, and carries on and maintains the equilibrium that Heaven designed should subsist. Adieu, dear Sir! Shall we live to lay down our heads in peace? Yours ever.
28th.—A second volume of Sir George Rodney's exploits arrived to-day. I do not know the authentic circumstances, for I have not been abroad yet, but they say he has taken four more Spanish ships of the line and five frigates; of the former, one of ninety guns. Spain was sick of the war before—how fortunate if she would renounce it!
I have just got a new History of Leicester, in six small volumes. It seems to be superficial; but the author is young, and talks modestly which, if it Will not serve instead of merit, makes one at least hope he will improve, and not grow insolent on age and more knowledge. I have also received from Paris a copy of an illumination from La Cit'e des Dames of Christina of Pisa, in the French King's library. There is her own portrait with three allegoric figures. I have learnt much more about her, and of her amour with an English peer;(380) but I have not time to say more at present.
(379) Admiral Sir George Rodney, who had been despatched to the relief of Gibraltar, the garrison of which was much distressed for provisions, after taking a convoy of Spanish ships bound to the Caraccas, fell in, on the 16th of February off Cape St. Vincent, with the Spanish fleet, commanded by Don Juan Langara, which he defeated, and captured four sail of the line.-E.
(380) John Montacute, Earl of Salisbury; who arriving in Paris, as ambassador from Richard II. to demand in marriage the Princess Isabel, daughter of Charles V., soon after the death of Castel, the husband of Christine, was so struck with her beauty and accomplishments as to offer her his hand. This Christine respectfully declined; upon which the Earl bade adieu to love, renounced marriage, and, with her consent, brought her eldest son with him to England, to educate and protect.-E.
Letter 188 To The Rev. Mr. Cole.
Berkeley Square, March 6, 1780. (PAGE 245)
I have this moment received your portrait in glass, dear Sir, and am impatient to thank you for it, and tell you how much I value it. It is better executed than I own I expected, and yet I am not quite satisfied with it. The drawing is a little incorrect, the eyes too small in proportion, and the mouth exaggerated. In short, it is a strong likeness of your features, but not of your countenance, which is better, and more serene. However, I am enough content to place it at Strawberry amongst all my favourite, brittle, transitory relics, which will soon vanish with their founder—and with his no great unwillingness for himself.
I take it ill, that you should think I should suspect you of asking indirectly for my Noble Authors-and much more if you would not be so free as to ask for them directly-a most trifling present surely—and from you who have made me a thousand! I know I have some copies in my old house in Arlington-street, I hope of both volumes, I am sure of the second. I will soon go thither and look for them.
I have gone through the six volumes of Leicester. The author is so modest and so humble, that I am quite sorry it is so very bad a work; the arrangement detestable, the materials trifling, his reflections humane but silly. He disposes all under reigns of Roman emperors and English kings, whether they did any thing or nothing at Leicester. I am sorry I have such predilection for the histories of particular counties and towns: there certainly does not exist a worse class of reading.
Dr. E. made me a visit last week. He is not at all less vociferous for his disgrace. I wish I had any Guinea-fowls. I can easily get you some eggs from Lady Ailesbury, and will ask her for some, that you may have the pleasure of rearing your own chicks—but how can you bear their noise? they are more discordant and clamorous than peacocks. How shall I convey the eggs?
I smiled at Dr. Kippis's bestowing the victory on Dean Milles, and a sprig on Mr. Masters. I regard it as I should, if the sexton of Broad Street St. Giles's were to make a lower bow to a cheese-monger of his own parish than to me. They are all three haberdashers of small wares, and welcome to each other's civilities. When such men are summoned to a jury on one of their own trade, it is natural they should be partial. They do not reason, but recollect how much themselves have overcharged some yards of buckram. Adieu!
P. S. Mr. Pennicott has shown me a most curious and delightful picture. It is Rose, the royal gardener, presenting the first pine-apple ever raised in England to Charles II. They are In a garden, with a view of a good private house, such as there are several at Sunbury and about london. It is by far the best likeness of the King I ever saw; the countenance cheerful, good-humoured, and very sensible. He is in brown, lined with orange, and many black ribands, a large flapped hat, dark wig, not tied up, nor yet bushy, a point cravat, no waistcoat, and a tasselled handkerchief, hanging from a low pocket. The whole is of the smaller landscape size, and extremely well coloured, with perfect harmony. It was a legacy from London, grandson of him who was partner with Wise.
Letter 189 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, March 13, 1780.(PAGE 246)
You compliment me, my good friend, on a sagacity that is surely very common. How frequently do we see portraits that have catched the features and missed the countenance or character, which is far more difficult to hit; nor is it unfrequent to hear that remark made.
I have confessed to you that I am fond of local histories. It is the general execution of them that I condemn, and that I call "the worst kind of reading." I cannot comprehend but that they might be performed with taste. I did mention this winter the new edition of Atkyns's Gloucestershire, as having additional descriptions of situations that I thought had merit. I have just got another, a View of Northumberland, in two volumes, quarto, with cuts;(381) but I do not devour it fast; for the author's predilection is to Roman antiquities, which, such as are found in this island, are very indifferent, and inspire me with little curiosity. A barbarous country, so remote from the seat of empire, and occupied by a few legions that very rarely decided any great events, is not very interesting, though one's own country; nor do I care a straw for a stone that preserves the name of a standard-bearer of a cohort, or of a colonel's daughter. Then I have no patience to read the tiresome disputes of antiquaries to settle forgotten names of vanished towns, and to prove that such a village was called something else in Antoninus's Itinerary. I do not say the Gothic antiquities I like are of more importance; but at least they exist. The site of a Roman camp, of which nothing remains but a bank, gives me not the smallest pleasure. One knows they had square camps-has one a clearer idea from the spot, which is barely distinguishable? How often does it happen, that the lumps of earth are so imperfect, that it is never clear whether they are Roman, Druidic, Danish, or Saxon fragments: the moment it is uncertain, it is plain they furnish no specific idea of art or history, and then I neither desire to see or read them. I have been diverted, too, by another work, in which I am personally a little concerned. Yesterday was published an octavo, pretending to contain the correspondence of Hackman and Miss Ray, that he murdered.(382) I doubt whether the letters are genuine; and yet, if fictitious, they are executed well, and enter into his character: hers appears less natural, and yet the editors were certainly more likely to be in the possession of hers than his. It is not probable that Lord Sandwich should have sent what he found in her apartments to the press. No account is pretended to be given of how they came to light.
You will wonder how I should be concerned in this correspondence, who never saw either of the lovers in my days. In fact, my being dragged in is a reason for doubting the authenticity; nor can I believe that the long letter in which I am frequently mentioned could be written by the wretched lunatic. It pretends that Miss Ray desired him to give her a particular account of Chatterton. He does give a most ample one; but is there a glimpse of probability that a being so frantic should have gone to Bristol, and sifted Chatterton's sister and others with as much cool curiosity as Mr. Lort could do? and at such a moment! Besides, he murdered Miss Ray, I think, in March; my printed defence was not at all dispersed before the preceding January or February, nor do I conceive that Hackman could even see it. There are notes, indeed, by the editor, who has certainly seen it; but I rather imagine that the editor, whoever he is, composed the whole volume. I am acquitted of' being accessory to the man's death, which is gracious; but much blamed for speaking of his bad character, and for being too hard on his forgeries, though I took so much pains to Specify the innocence of them; and for his character, I only quoted the words of his own editor and panegyrist. I did not repeat what Dr. Goldsmith told me at the Royal Academy, where I first heard of his death, that he went by the appellation of the "Young Villain;" but it is not new to me, as you know, to be blamed by two opposite parties. The editor has in one place confounded me and my uncle; who, he says, as is true, checked Lord Chatham for being too forward a young man in 1740. In that year I was not even come into Parliament; and must have been absurd indeed if I had taunted Lord Chatham with youth, who was, at least, six or seven years younger than he was; and how could he reply by reproaching me with old age, who was then not twenty-three? I shall make no answer to these absurdities, nor to any part of the work. Blunder, I see, people will, and talk of what they do not understand @ and what care I? There is another trifling mistake of still less consequence. The editor supposes it was Macpherson who communicated Ossian to me. It was Sir David Dalrymple who sent me the first specimen.(383) Macpherson did once come to me, but my credulity was then a little shaken.
Lady Ailesbury has promised me Guinea-eggs for you, but they have not yet begun to lay I am well acquainted with Lady Craven's little tale, dedicated to me.(384) It is careless and incorrect, but there are very pretty things in it. I will stop, for I fear I have written to you too much lately. One you did not mention: I think it was of the 28th of last month.
(381) "A View of Northumberland; with an Excursion to the Abbey of Melrose, Scotland, in the year 1776;" by William Hutchinson, F. A. S. Two volumes 4to.; 1778-80.-E.
(382) the work here alluded to was written by Sir Herbert Croft, Bart. It was a compound of fact and fiction called "Love and Madness, a Story too true, in a Series of Letters between Parties, whose names would, perhaps, be mentioned, were they less known or less lamented. London, 1780." The work ran through several editions. In 1800, Sir Herbert published, "Chatterton and Love and Madness, in a Letter from Sir Herbert Croft to Mr. Nichols." Boswell says, that Dr. Johnson greatly disapproved of mingling real facts with fiction, and on this account censured "Love and Madness."-E.
(383) See vol. iii. p. 63, letter 25, note 64.-E.
(384) Entitled "The Miniature Picture."-E.
Letter 190 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, March 30, 1780. (page 248)
I cannot be told that you are extremely ill, and refrain from begging to hear that you are better. Let me have but one line; if it is good, 'it will satisfy me. If you was not out of order, I would scold you for again making excuses about the Noble Authors; it was not kind to be so formal about a trifle.
We do not differ so much in politics as you think, for when they grow too serious, they are so far from inflaming my zeal, they make me more moderate: and I can as easily discern the faults on my own side as on the other; nor would assist Whigs more than Tories in altering the constitution. The project of annual parliaments, or of adding a hundred members to the House of Commons would, I think, be very unwise, and will never have my approbation—but a temperate man is not likely to be listened to in turbulent times; and when one has not youth and lungs, or ambition, to make oneself attended to, one can only be silent and lament, and preserve oneself blameless of any mischief that is done or attempted.
Letter 191 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, May 11, 1780. (page 248)
Mr. Godfrey, the engraver, told me yesterday that Mr. Tyson is dead.(385) I am sorry for it, though he had left me off. A much older friend of mine died yesterday; but of whom I must say the same, George Montagu, whom you must remember at Eton and Cambridge. I should have been exceedingly concerned for him a few years ago but he had dropped me, partly from politics and partly from caprice, for we never had any quarrel; but he was grown an excessive humourist, and had shed almost all his friends as well as me. He had parts, and infinite vivacity and originality till of late years; and it grieved me much that he had changed towards me, after a friendship of between thirty and forty years.
I am told that a nephew of the provost of King's has preached and printed a most flaming sermon, which condemns the whole Opposition to the stake. Pray who is it, and on what occasion? Mr. Bryant has published an Answer to Dr. Priestley.(386) I bought it, but though I have a great value for the author, the subject is so metaphysical, and so above human decision, I soon laid it aside. I hope you can send me a good account of yourself, though the spring is so unfavourable. Yours most sincerely.
(385) Mr. Cole, in a letter of the 14th, says, "the loss of poor Mr. Tyson shocked and afflicted me more than I thought it possible I could have been afflicted: since the loss of Mr. Gray, I have lamented no one so much. God rest his soul! I hope he is happy; and, was it not for those he has left behind, I am so much of a philosopher, now the affair is over, I would prefer the exchange."-E.
(386) It was entitled "An Address to Dr. Priestley upon his Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity Illustrated."-E.
@Letter 192 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Friday night, May 19, 1780. (page 249)
By tomorrow's coach you will receive a box of Guinea-hens' eggs, which Lady Ailesbury sent me to-day from Park-place. I hope they will arrive safe and all be hatched.
I thank you for the account of the sermon and the portrait of the uncle. They will satisfy me without buying the former. As I knew Mr. Joseph Spence,(387) I do not think I should have been so much delighted as Dr. Kippis with reading his letters. He was a good-natured, harmless little soul, but more like a silver penny than a genius. It was a neat, fiddle-faddle, bit of sterling, that had read good books and kept good company, but was too trifling for use, and only fit to please a child.
I hesitate on purchasing Mr. Gough's second edition. I do not think there was a guinea's worth of entertainment in the first; how can the additions be worth a guinea and a half? I have been aware of the royal author you tell me of, and have noted him for a future edition; but that will not appear in my own time; because, besides that, it will have the castrations in my original copy, and other editions, that I am not impatient to produce. I have been solicited to reprint the work, but do not think it fair to give a very imperfect edition when I could print it complete, which I do not choose to do, as I have an aversion to literary squabbles: one seems to think one's self too important when one engages in a controversy on one's writings; and when one does not vindicate them, the answerer passes for victor, as you see Dr. Kippis allots the palm to Dr. Milles, though you know I have so much more to say in defence of my hypothesis. I have actually some hopes of still more, of which I have heard, but till I see it, I shall not reckon upon it as on my side.
Mr. lort told me of King James's Procession to St. Paul's; but they ask such a price for it, and I care so little for James I., that I have not been to look at the picture.
Your electioneering will probably be increased immediately. Old Mr. Thomas Townshend is at the point of death.(388) The Parliament will probably be dissolved before another session. We wanted nothing but drink to inflame our madness, which I do not confine to politics; but what signifies it to throw out general censures? We old folks are apt to think nobody wise but ourselves. I wish the disgraces of these last two or three years did not justify a little severity more than flows from the peevishness of years! Yours ever.
(387) See Vol. I. p, 168, letter 29.-E.
(388) The Right Hon. Thomas Townshend, son of Charles second Viscount Townshend, many years member for the University of Cambridge. He died a few days after the date of this letter. He was a most elegant scholar, and lived in acquaintance and familiarity with most of the considerable men of his time. In early life he entered into the secretary of state's office under his father, whom he accompanied in his journeys to Germany with George the First and Second. At the time of his death he was in his seventy-ninth year.-E.
Letter 193 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, May 30, 1780. (page 250)
I hope you will bring your eggs to a fair market. At last I have got from Bonus my altar-doors which I bought at Mr. Ives's; he has repaired them admirably. I would not suffer him to repaint or varnish them. There are indubitably Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, Cardinal Beaufort, and Archbishop Kemp. The fourth I cannot make out. It is a man in a crimson garment lined with white, and not tonsured. He is in the stable with cattle, and has the air of Joseph; but over his head hangs a large shield with these arms. * * *(389) The Cornish choughs are sable on or; the other three divisions are gules, on the first of which is a gold crescent.
The second arms have three bulls' heads sable, horned or. The chevron was so changed that Bonus thought it sable; but I think it was gules, and then it would be Bullen or Boleyn. Lord de Ferrars says, that the first are the arms of Sir Bartholomew Tate, who he finds married a Sanders. Edmondson's new Dictionary of Heraldry confirms both arms for Tate and Sanders, except that Sanders bore the chevron erminc, which it may have been. But what I wish to discover IS, whether Sir Bartholomew Tate was a benefactor to St. Edmundsbury, whence these doors came, or was in any shape a retainer to the Duke of Gloucester or Cardinal Beaufort. The Duke's and Sir Bartholomew's figures were on the insides of the doors (which I have had sawed into four panels,) and are painted in a far superior style to the Cardinal and the Archbishop, which are very hard and dry. The two others are so good that they are in the style of the school of the Caracci. They at least were painted by some Italian; the draperies have large and bold folds, and One wonders how they could be executed in the reign of Henry VI. I shall be very glad if you can help me to any lights, at least about Sir Bartholomew. I intend to place them in my chapel, as they will aptly accompany the shrine. The Duke and Archbishop's agree perfectly with their portraits in my Marriage of Henry VI., and prove how rightly I guessed. The Cardinal's is rather a longer and thinner visage, but that he might have in the latter end of life; and in the Marriage he has the red bonnet on, which shortens his face. On the door he is represented in the character he ought to have possessed, a pious, contrite look, not the truer resemblance which Shakspeare drew— "He dies, and makes no sign!"—but Annibal Caracci himself could not paint like our Raphael poet! Pray don't venture yourself in any more electioneering riots: you see the mob do not respect poets, nor, I suppose, antiquaries.
P. S. I am in no haste for an answer to my queries.
(389) Here Mr. Walpole had sketched in a rough draught of the arms.
Letter 194 To Mrs. Abington.(390) Strawberry Hill, June 11, 1780. (page 251)
Madam, You may certainly always command me and my house. My common custom is to give a ticket for only four persons at a time but it would be very insolent in me, when all laws are set at nought, to pretend to prescribe rules. At such times there is a shadow of authority in setting the laws aside by the legislature itself; and though I have no army to supply their place, I declare Mrs. Abington may march through all my dominions at the head of as large a troop as she pleases. I do not say, as she can muster and command; for then I am sure my house would not hold them. The day, too, is at her own choice; and the master is her very obedient humble servant.
(390) Now first printed.
Letter 195 To The Earl Of Strafford. Strawberry Hill, June 12, 1780. (page 251)
My dear lord, If the late events had been within the common proportion of news, I would have tried to entertain your lordship with an account of them; but they were far beyond that size, and could only create horror and indignation. Religion has often been the cloak of injustice, outrage, and villany: in our late tumults,(391) it scarce kept on its mask a moment; its persecution was downright robbery; and it was so drunk that it killed its banditti faster than they could plunder. The tumults have been carried on in so violent and scandalous a manner, that I trust they will have no copies. When prisons are levelled to the ground, when the Bank is aimed at, and reformation is attempted by conflagrations, the savages of Canada are the only fit allies of Lord George Gordon(392) and his crew. The Tower is much too dignified a prison for him-but he had left no other.
I came out of town on Friday, having seen a good deal of the shocking transactions of Wednesday night—in fact, it was difficult to be in London, and not to see or think some part of it in flames. I saw those of the King's Bench, New Prison, and those on the three sides of the Fleet-market, which turned into one blaze.(393) The town and parks are now one camp—the next disagreeable sight to the capital being in ashes. It will still not have been a fatal tragedy, if it brings the nation one and all to their senses. It will still be not quite an unhappy country, if we reflect that the old constitution, exactly as it was in the last reign, was the most desirable of any in the universe. It made us then the first people in Europe—we have a vast deal of ground to recover—but can we take a better path than that which King William pointed out to us? I mean the system he left us at the Revolution. I am averse to all changes of it—it fitted us just as it was.
For some time even individuals must be upon their guard. Our new and now imprisoned apostle has delivered so many Saint Peters from gaol, that one hears of nothing but robberies on the highway. Your lordship's sister, Lady Browne, and I have been at Twickenham-park this evening, and kept together, and had a horseman at our return. Baron d'Aguilar was shot at in that very lane on Thursday night. A troop of the fugitives had rendezvoused in Combe Wood, and were dislodged thence yesterday by the light horse.
I do not know a syllable but what relates to these disturbances. The newspapers have neglected few truths. Lies, without their natural propensity to falsehoods, they could not avoid, for every minute produces some, at least exaggerations. We were threatened with swarms of good Protestants 'a br'uler from all quarters, and report sent various detachments on similar errands; but thank God they have been but reports! Oh! when shall we have peace and tranquility? I hope your lordship and Lady Strafford will at least enjoy the latter in your charming woods. I have long doubted which of our passions is the strongest—perhaps every one of them is equally strong in some person or other-but I have no doubt but ambition is the most detestable, and the most inexcusable; for its mischiefs are by far the most extensive, and its enjoyments by no means proportioned to its anxieties. The latter, I believe, is the case of most passions—but then all but ambition cost little pain to any but the possessor. An ambitious man must be divested of all feeling but for himself. The torment of others is his high-road to happiness. Were the transmigration of souls true, and accompanied by consciousness, how delighted would Alexander or Croesus be to find themselves on four legs, and divested of a wish to conquer new worlds, or to heap up all the wealth of this! Adieu, my dear lord!
(391) The riots of 1780, when Lord George Gordon raised a no-popery cry, and assembled many thousand persons in St. George's Fields, to accompany him to the House of Commons, with a petition for the repeal of the act passed for the relief of the Roman Catholics in the preceding session. The petition was, of course, rejected; which being communicated to the mob by Lord George, they dispersed for a while, but on that evening commenced their work of mischief, destroying two Catholic chapels in Duke-street and Warwick-street: Newgate and all the other prisons were likewise fired; the Bank was attempted; and the riot was not quelled until 210 persons were killed and 248 wounded, of whom seventy-five died in the hospitals. Lord George was committed to the Tower; and many of the ringleaders, after being tried by special commissioners, suffered the extreme penalty of the law.-E.
(392) Lord George Gordon was brother of Alexander Duke of Gordon. He was considered not to be at all times of sound mind. Some years after his acquittal, on the indictment preferred against him in the Court of King's Bench as instigator of the riots, he was convicted of a libel on Marie Antoinette and Count d'Ademar, one of the French ministry. To avoid punishment, he fled the country; but shortly afterwards was discovered at Birmingham in the garb of a Jew, and committed to Newgate, pursuant to his sentence, where he lived some time, professing the Jewish religion, having undergone the extreme rites of it, and where he died, in November 1793.-E.
(393) In her reply to a letter from Walpole, giving an account of these riots, Madame du Deffand says—"Rien n'est plus affreux que tout ce qui arrive chez vous. Votre libert'e ne me s'eduit point; cette libert'e tant vant'ee me paroit bien plus on'ereuse que notre esclavage; mais il ne m'appartient pas de traitor de telles mati'eres: permettez-moi de bl'amer votre indiscr'etion, de vous aller promener dans les rues pendant ce vacarme."-E.
Letter 196 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, June 15, 1780. (page 253)
You may like to know one is alive, dear Sir, after a massacre, and the conflagration of a capital. I was in it, both on the Friday and on the Black Wednesday; the most horrible sight I ever beheld, and which, for six hours together, I expected to end in half the town being reduced to ashes. I can give you little account of the original of this shocking affair; negligence was certainly its nurse, and religion only its godmother. The ostensible author is in the Tower. Twelve or fourteen thousand men have quelled all tumults; and as no bad account is come from the country, except for a moment at Bath, and as eight days have passed,—nay, more, since the commencement, I flatter myself the whole nation is shocked at the scene; and that, if plan there was, it was laid only in and for the metropolis. The lowest and most villanous of the people, and to no great amount, were almost the sole actors.
/I hope your electioneering riotry(394) has not, nor will mix in these tumults. It would be most absurd; for Lord Rockingham, the Duke of Richmond, Sir George Saville, and Mr. Burke, the patrons of toleration, were devoted to destruction as much as the ministers. The rails torn from Sir George's house were the chief weapons and instruments of the mob. For the honour of the nation I should be glad to have it proved that the French were the engineers. You and I have lived too long for our comfort—shall we close our eyes in peace? I will not trouble you more about the arms I sent you: I should like that they were those of the family of Boleyn; and since I cannot be sure they were not, why should not I fancy them so? I revert to the prayer for peace. You and I, that can amuse ourselves with our books and papers, feel as much indignation at the turbulent as they have scorn for us. It is hard at least that they who disturb nobody can have no asylum in which to pursue their innoxious indolence Who is secure against Jack Straw and a whirlwind? How I abominate Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander, who routed the poor Otaheitans out of the centre of the ocean, and carried our abominable passions amongst them! not even that poor little specie could escape European restlessness. Well, I have seen many tempestuous scenes, and outlived them! the present prospect is too thick to see through- -it is well hope never forsakes us. Adieu!
(394) Of the "electioneering riotry" going on at this time in Cambridgeshire, Mr. Cole, in a letter of the 14th of May, gives the following account:—"Electioneering madness and faction have inflamed this country to such a degree, that the peace it has enjoyed for above half a century may take as long a time before it returns again. Yesterday, the three candidates were nominated; the Duke of Rutland's brother, the late Mr. Charles Yorke's son, and Sir Sampson Gideon, whose expenses for this month have been enormous, beyond all belief. Sending my servant on a particular message to Sir Sampson, he found him in bed, not well, and probably half asleep; for he not only wrote the direction to two covers which I sent him, but sealed them both, though they were only covers. I wonder, indeed, that he is alive, considering the immense fatigue and necessary drinking he must undergo—a miserable hard task to get into Parliament!" The contest terminated in the return of Lord Robert Manners, who died, in April 1782, of the wounds he received in the great sea-fight in the West Indies; and of Mr. Philip Yorke, who, in 1790, succeeded his uncle as Earl of Hardwicke.-E.
Letter 197 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, July 4, 1780. (page 254)
I answer your letter the moment I receive it, to beg you will by no means take any notice, not even in directly and without My name, of the Life of Mr. Baker. I am earnest against its being known to exist. I should be teased to show it. Mr. Gough might inquire about it—I do not desire his acquaintance; and above all am determined, if I can help it, to have no controversy while I live. You know I have hitherto suppressed my answers to the critics of Richard III. for that reason; and above all things, I hate theologic or political controversy-nor need you fear my disputing with you, though we disagree very considerably indeed about Papist's and Presbyterians. I hope you have not yet sent the manuscript to Mr. Lort, and if you have not, do entreat you to deface undecipherably what you have said about my Life of Mr. Baker.
Pray satisfy me that no mention of it shall appear in print. I can by no means consent to it, and I am sure you will prevent it. Yours sincerely.
Letter 198 To The Earl Of Strafford. Strawberry Hill, Sept. 9, 1780. (page 255)
I am very happy at receiving a letter from your lordship this moment, as I thought it very long since we had corresponded, but am afraid of being troublesome, when I have not the excuse of thanking you, or something worth telling you, which in truth is not the case at present. No soul, whether interested or not, but deafens one about elections. I always detested them, even when in Parliament; and when I lived a good deal at White's, preferred hearing of Newmarket to elections; for the former, being uttered in a language I did not understand, did not engage my attention; but as they talked of elections in English, I could not help knowing what they said. It does surprise me, I own, that people can choose to stuff their heads with details and circumstances. of which in six weeks they will never hear or think more. The weather till now has been the chief topic of conversation. Of late it has been the third very hot summer; but refreshed by so little rain, that the banks of the Thames have been and are, I believe, like those of the Manzanares. The night before last we had some good showers, and to-day a thick fog has dissolved in some as thin as gauze. Still I am not quite sorry to enjoy the weather of adust climates without their tempests and insects. Lady Cowper I lately visited, and but lately: if what I hear is true, I shall be a gainer, for they talk of Lord Duncannon having her house at Richmond: like your lordship, I confess I was surprised at his choice. I know nothing to the prejudice of the young lady;(395) but I should not have selected, for so gentle and very amiable a man, a sister of the empress of fashion,(396) nor a daughter of the goddess of wisdom.(397)
They talk of great disssatisfactions in the fleet. Geary and Barrington are certainly retired. It looks, if this deplorable war should continue, as if all our commanders by sea and land were to be disgraced or disgusted.
The people here have christened Mr. Shirley's new house, Spite-hall.(398) It is dismal to think that one may live to seventy-seven, and go out of the world doing as ill-natured an act as possible! When I am reduced to detail the gazette of Twickenham, I had better release your lordship; but either way it is from the utmost attention and respect for your lordship and Lady Strafford, as I am ever most devotedly and gratefully yours.
(395) In the following November, Lord Duncannon married Henrietta-Frances, second daughter of John first Earl Spencer.-E.
(396) Georgiana, eldest daughter of John first Earl Spencer; married, in 1774, to the Duke of Devonshire.-E.
(397) Margaret-Georgiana, daughter of the Right Hon. Stephen Poyntz; married, in 1755, to John first Earl Spencer.-E.
(398) Because built, it was said, on purpose to intercept a view of the Thames from his opposite neighbour.
letter 199 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Strawberry Hill, Sept. 27, 1780. (page 256)
Dear Sir, I MUST inquire how you do after all your election agitations, which have growled even around your hermitage. Candidates and their emissaries are like Pope's authors,
"They pierce our thickets, through our groves they glide."
However, I have barred my doors; and when I would not go to an election for myself, I would not for any one else.
Has not a third real summer, and so very dry one, assisted your complaints? I have been remarkably well, and better than for these five years. Would I could say the same of all my friends— but, alas! I expect every day to hear that I have lost my dear old friend Madame du Deffand.(399) She was indeed near eighty-four, but retained all her interior faculties—two days ago the letters from Paris forbade all hopes. So I reckon myself dead as to France, where I have kept up no other connexion.
I am going at last to publish my fourth volume of Painters, which, though printed so long, I have literally treated by Horace's rule, "Nonumque prematur in nonum." Tell me how I shall send it to you. Yours ever.
(399) In the last letter Madame du Deffand ever wrote to Walpole, dated the 22d of August, she thus describes her situation:—"Je vous mandai dans ma derni'ere que je ne me portais pas bien; c'cst encore pis aujourd'hui. Je suis d'une faiblesse et d'un abattement excessifs; Ma voix est 'eteinte, je ne puis me soutenir sur mes jambes, je ne puis me donner aucun mouvement, j'ai le coeur envolopp'e; j'ai de la peine 'a croire que cet 'etat ne m'annonce une fin prochaine. Je n'ai pas la force d'en 'etre effray'ee; et, ne vous devant revoir de ma vie, je n'a rien 'a regretter. Divertissez-vous, mon ami, le plus que vous pourrez; ne vous affligez point de mon 'etat; nous 'etions presque perdus l'un pour l'autre; nous ne nous devions jamais revoir! vous me regretterez, parce qu'on est bien-aise de se savoir aim'e. Peut-'etre que par la suite Wiart vous mandera de mes nouvelles; c'est une fatigue pour moi de dicter." From this day she kept her bed. On the 8th of September Mr. Walpole had written to her, expressing his great anxiety for her. To his inquiries she was unable to dictate an answer. Her anteroom continued every day crowded with the persons who had before surrounded her supper-table. Her weakness became excessive; but she suffered no pain, and possessed her memory, understanding, and ideas till within the last eight days of her existence, when a lethargic insensibility took which terminated in death, without effort or struggle, on the 24th of September. She was buried, according to her own direction, in the plainest manner, in her parish church of St. Sulpice. To Mr. Walpole she bequeathed the whole of her manuscripts, papers, letters, and books, of every description; with a permission to the Prince of Beauvau to take a copy of any of the papers he might desire.-E.
Letter 200 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Oct. 3, 1780. (page 256)
I did not go to Malvern, and therefore cannot certify you, my good Sir, whether Tom Hearne mistook stone for brass or not, though I dare to say your criticism is just.
My book, if I can possibly, shall go to the inn to-morrow, or next day at least. You will find a great deal of rubbish in it, with all your partiality—but I shall have done with it.
I cannot thank you enough for your goodness about your notes that you promised Mr. Grose; but I cannot possibly be less generous and less disinterested, nor can by any means be the cause of your breaking your word. In short, I insist on your sending your notes to him—and as to my Life of Mr. Baker, if it is known to exist, nobody can make me produce it sooner than I please, nor at all if I do not please; so pray send your accounts, and leave me to be stout with our antiquaries, or curious. I shall not satisfy the latter, and don't care a straw for the former.
The Master of Pembroke (who he is, I don't know(400)) is like the lover who said,
"Have I not seen thee where thou hast not been?"
I have been in Kent with Mr. Barrett, but was not at Ramsgate; the Master, going thither, perhaps saw me. It is a mistake not worth rectifying. I have no time for more, being in the midst of the delivery of my books. Yours ever.
(400) Dr. James Brown; see ante, p. 62, letter 36.-E.
Letter 201 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Nov. 11, 1780. (page 257)
I am afraid you are not well, my good Sir; for you are so obligingly punctual, that I think you would have acknowledged the receipt of my last volume, if you were not out of order.
Lord Dacre lent me the new edition of Mr. Gough's Topography, and the ancient maps and quantity of additions tempted me to buy it. I have not gone through much above the half of the first volume, and find it more entertaining than the first edition. This is no partiality; for I think he seems rather disposed, though civilly, to find cavils with me. Indeed, in the passage in which I am most mentioned, he not only gives a very confused, but quite a wrong account: as in other places, he records some trifles in my possession not worth recording—but I know that we antiquaries are but too apt to think, that whatever has had the honour of entering our ears, is worthy of being laid before the eyes of every body else. The story I mean is P. ix. of the preface. Now the three volumes of drawings and tombs, by Mr. Lethueillier and Sir Charles Frederick, for which Mr. Gough says I refused two hundred pounds, are now Lord Bute's, are not Lord Bute's, but mine, and for which I never was offered two hundred pounds, and for which I gave sixty pounds—full enough. The circumstances were much more entertaining than Mr. G.'s perplexed account. Bishop Lyttelton told me Sir Charles Frederick complained of Mr. L.'s not bequeathing them to him, as he had been a joint labourer with him; and that Sir Charles wished I Would not bid against him for them, as they were to be sold by auction. I said this was a very reasonable request, and that I was ready to oblige Sir Charles; but as I heard others meant to bid high for the books, I should wish to know how far he would go, and that I would not oppose him; but should the books exceed the price Sir Charles was willing to give, I should like to be at liberty to bid for them against others. However, added I, as Sir Charles (who lived then in Berkelyey-square, as I did then in Arlington-street,) passes by my door every time he goes to the House of Commons, if he will call on me, We will make such agreement. You will scarce believe the sequel. The dignity of Sir Charles Frederick was hurt that I should propose his making me the first visit, though to serve himself—nothing could be more out of my imagination than the ceremonial of visits; though when he was so simple as to make a point of it, I could not see how in any light I was called on to make the first visit—and so the treaty ended; and so I bought the books. There was another work, I think in two volumes, which was their Diary of Their Tour, with a few slight views. Bishop Lyttelton proposed them to me, and engaged to get them for me from Mr. Lethueillier's sister for ten guineas. She hesitated, the Bishop died, I thought no more of them, and they may be what Lord Bute has. There is another assertion in Mr. Gough, which I can authentically Contradict. He says Sir Matthew Decker first introduced ananas, p. 134. My very curious picture of Rose, the royal gardener, presenting the first ananas to Charles II. proves the culture here earlier by several years.
At page 373, he seems to doubt my assertion of Gravelot's making drawings of tombs in Gloucestershire, because he never met with any engravings from them. I took my account from Vertue, who certainly knew what he said. I bought at Vertue's own sale some of Gravelot's drawings of our regal monuments, which Vertue engraved: but, which is stronger, Mr. Gough himself a few pages after, viz. in p. 387, mentions Gravelot's drawing of Tewkesbury church; which being in Gloucestershire, Mr. G. might have believed me that Gravelot did draw in that county. This is a little like Mr. Masters's being angry with me for taking liberties with bishops and chancellors, and then abusing grossly one who had been both bishop and chancellor. I forgot that in the note on Sir Charles Frederick, Mr. Gough calls Mr. Worseley, Wortley. In page 354, he says Rooker exhibited a drawing of Waltham-cross to the Royal Academy of Sciences—pray where is that academy? I suppose he means that of painting. I find a few omissions; one very comical; he says Penshurst was celebrated by Ben Jonson, and seems Perfectly in the dark as to how much more fame it owes to Waller. We antiquaries are a little apt to get laughed at for knowing what every body has forgotten, and for being ignorant of what every child knows. Do not tell him of these things, for I do not wish to vex him. I hope I was mistaken, and shall hear that you are well. Yours ever.
Letter 202 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Nov. 24, 1780. (page 259)
I am sorry I was so much in the right in guessing you had been ill, but at our age there is little sagacity in such divination. In my present holidays from the gout, I have a little rheumatism, or some of those accompaniments.
I have made several more notes to the new Topography, but none of consequence enough to transcribe. It is well it is a book only for the adept, or the scorners would often laugh. Mr. Gough speaking of some cross that has been removed, says, there is now an unmeaning market-house in its place. Saving his reverence and our prejudices, I doubt there is a good deal more meaning in a market-house than in a cross. They tell me that there are numberless mistakes. Mr. Pennant, whom I saw yesterday, says so. He is not one of our plodders; rather the other extreme. His corporal spirits (for I cannot call them animal) do not allow him time to digest any thing. He gave a round jump from ornithology to antiquity; and, as if they had any relation, thought he understood every thing between them. These adventures divert me who am got on shore, and find how sweet it is to look back on those who are toiling in deep waters, whether in ships, or cock-boats, or on old rotten planks. I am sorry for the Dean of Exeter; if he dies, I conclude the leaden mace of the Antiquarian Society will be given to Judge Barrington,(401)
Et simili frondescet Virga metallo."
I endeavoured to give our antiquaries a little wrench towards taste—but it was in vain. Sandby and our engravers have lent them a great deal—but there it stops. Captain Grose's dissertations are as dull and silly as if they were written for the Ostrogoth maps of the beginning of the new Topography: and which are so square and incomprehensible, that they look as if they were ichnographics of the New Jerusalem. I am delighted with having done with the professions of author and printer, and intend to be most comfortably lazy, I was going to say idle (but that would not be new) for the rest of my days.
If there was a peace, I would build my offices—if there is not soon, we shall be bankrupt—nay, I do not know what may happen as it is. Well! Mr. Grose will have plenty of ruins to engrave! The Royal Academy will make a fine mass, with what remains of old Somerset-house.
Adieu! my good Sir. Let me know you are well. You want nothing else, for you can always amuse Yourself, and do not let the foolish world disturb you. Yours most sincerely.
(401) The Hon. Daines Barrington, fourth son of John first Viscount Barrington, second Justice of Chester, and author of "Observations on the Statutes," etc. He was eminent in natural history, and in several branches of literature; and died in 1800.-E.
Letter 203 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Nov. 30, 1780. (page 260)
I am sorry, my dear Sir, that you should be so humble with me, your ancient friend, and to whom you have ever been so liberal, as to make an apology for desiring me to grant the request of another person. I am not less sorry that I shall not, I fear, be able to comply with it; and you must have the patience to hear my reason,,-,. The first edition of the Anecdotes was of three hundred, of the two first volumes; and of as many of the third volume, and of the volume of Engravers. Then there was an edition of three hundred of all four. Unluckily, I did not keep any number back of the two first volumes, and literally have none but those I reserved for myself. Of the other two I have two or three: and, I believe, I have a first, but without the cuts. If I can,.with some odd volumes that I kept for corrections, make out a decent set, the library of the University shall have them; but you must not promise them, lest I should not be able to perform.
Of my new fourth volume I printed six hundred; but as they can be had, I believe not a third part is sold. This is a very plain lesson to me, that my editions sell for their curiosity, and not for any merit in them: and so they would if I printed Mother Goose's Tales, and but a few. As my Anecdotes of Painting have been published at such distant periods, and in three divisions, complete sets will be seldom seen; so, If I am humbled as an author, I may be vain as a printer; and, when one has nothing else to be vain of, it is certainly very little worth while to be proud of that.
I will now trust you with a secret, but beg Mr. Gough may not know it, for he will print it directly. Though I forgot Alma Mater, I have not forgotten my Alma Nutrices, wet or dry, I mean Eton and King's. I have laid aside for them, and left them in my will, as complete a set as I could, of all I have printed. A few I did give them at first; but I have for neither a perfect set of the Anecdotes, I mean not the two first volumes. I should be much obliged to you, if, without naming me, you could inform yourself if I did send to King'S those two first volumes—I believe not. '
I will now explain what I said above of Mr. Gough. He has learnt, I suppose from my engravers, that I have had some views of Strawberry-hill engraved. Slap-dash, down it went, and he has even specified each view in his second volume. This curiosity is a little impertinent; but he has made me some amends by a new blunder, for he says they are engraved for a second edition of my Catalogue. Now I have certainly printed but one edition, for which the prints are designed. He says truly, that I printed but a few for use; consequently, I by no means wished the whole world should know it; but he is silly, and so I will say no more about him. Dr. Lort called yesterday, and asked if I had any message for you; but I had written too lately.
Mr. Pennant has been, as I think I told you, in town: by this time I conclude he is, as Lady Townley says of fifty pounds, all over the kingdom. When Dr. Lort returns, I shall be very glad to read your transcript of Wolsey's Letters; for, in your hand, I can read them. I will not have them but by some very safe conveyance, and will return them with equal care.
I can have no objection to Robin Masters being wooden-head of the Antiquarian Society; but, I suppose, he is not dignified enough for them. I should prefer the Judge too, because a coif makes him more like an old woman, and I reckon that Society the midwives of superannuated miscarriages. I am grieved for the return of your headaches—I doubt you write too much. Yours most sincerely.
P. S. It will be civil to tell Dr. Farmer that I do not know whether I can obey his commands , but that I will if I can. As to a distinguished place, I beg not to be preferred to much better authors; nay, the more conspicuous, the more likely to be stolen for the reasons I have given you, of there being few complete sets, and true collectors are mighty apt to steal.
Letter 204 To Sir David Dalrymple.(402) Dec. 11, 1780. (page 261)
I should have been shamefully ungrateful, Sir, if I could ever forget all the favours I have received from you, and had omitted any mark of respect to you that it was in my power to show. Indeed, what you are so good as to thank me for was a poor trifle, but it was all I had or shall have of the kind. It was imperfect too, as some painters Of name have died since it was printed, which was nine years ago. They will be added with your kind notices, should I live, which is not probable, to see a new edition wanted. Sixty-three years, and a great deal of illness, are too speaking mementos not to be attended to; and when the public has been more indulgent than one had any right to expect, it is not decent to load it with one's dotage.
I believe, Sir, that I may have been over-candid to Hogarth, and fail his spirit and youth and talent may have hurried him into more real caricatures than I specified . yet he certainly restrained his bent that way pretty early. Charteris(403) I have seen; but though Some years older than you, Sir, I cannot say I have at all a perfect idea of him: nor did I ever hear the curious anecdote you tell me of ' the banker and my father. I was much better acquainted with bishop Blackbourne. He lived within two doors of my father in Downing Street, and took much notice of me when I was near man. It is not to be ungrateful and asperse him, but to amuse you, if I give you some account of him from what I remember.(404) He was perfectly a fine gentleman to the last, to eighty-four; his favourite author was Waller, whom he frequently quoted. In point of decorum, he was not quite so exact as you have been told, Sir. I often dined with him, his mistress, Mrs. Conwys, sat at the head of the table, and Hayter,(405) his natural son by another woman, and very like him, at the bottom, as chaplain: he was afterwards Bishop of London. I have heard, but do not affirm it, that Mrs. Blackbourne, before she died, complained of Mrs. Conwys being brought under the same roof. To his clergy he was, I have heard, very imperious. One story I recollect, which showed how much he was a man of this world: and which the Queen herself repeated to my father. On the King's last journey to Hanover, before Lady Yarmouth came over, the Archbishop being With her Majesty, said to her, "Madam, I have been with your minister Walpole, and he tells me that you are a wise woman, and do not mind your husband's having a mistress." He was a little hurt at not being raised to Canterbury on Wake's death, and said to my father, "You did not think on me: but it is true, I am too old, I am too old." Perhaps, Sir, these are gossiping stories, but at least they hurt nobody now.
I can say little, Sir, for my stupidity or forgetfulness about Hogarth's poetry, which I still am not sure I ever heard, though I knew him so well; but it is an additional argument for my distrusting myself, if my memory fails, which is very possible. A whole volume of Richardson's poetry has been published since my volume was printed, not much to the honour of his muse, but exceedingly so to that of his piety and amiable heart. You will be pleased, too, Sir, with a story Lord Chesterfield told me (too late too) of Jervas, who piqued himself on the reverse, on total infidelity. One day that he had talked very indecently in that strain, Dr. Arbuthnot, who was as devout as Richardson, said to him, "Come, Jervas, this is all an air and affectation; nobody is a sounder believer than you." "I!" said Jervase, "I believe nothing." "Yes, but you do," replied the Doctor; "nay, you not only believe, but practise: you are so scrupulous an observer of the commandments, that you never make the likeness of any thing that is in heaven, or on the earth beneath, or," etc.
I fear, Sir, this letter is too long for thanks, and that I have been proving what I have said, of my growing superannuated; but, having made my will in my last volume, you may look on this as a codicil.
P. S. I had sealed my letter, Sir, but break it open, lest you should think soon, that I do not know what I say, or break my resolution lightly. I shall be able to send you in about two months a very curious work that I am going to print, and is actually in the press; but there is not a syllable of my writing in it. It is a discovery just made of two very ancient manuscripts, copies of which were found in two or three libraries in Germany, and of which there are more complete manuscripts at Cambridge. They are of the eleventh century at longest, and prove that painting in oil was then known, above three hundred years before the pretended invention of Van Dyck. The manuscripts themselves will be printed, with a full introductory Dissertation by the discoverer, Mr. Raspe, a very learned German. formerly librarian to the Landgrave of Hesse, and who writes English surprisingly well. The manuscripts are in the most barbarous monkish Latin, and are much such works as our booksellers publish of receipts for mixing colours, varnishes, etc. One of the authors, who calls himself Theophilus, was a monk; the other, Heraclitis, is totally unknown; but the proofs are Unquestionable. As my press is out of order, and that besides it would take up too much time to print them there, they will be printed here at my expense, and if there is any surplus, it will be for Raspe's benefit.
(402) Now first collected.
(403) The notorious Colonel Francis Charteris, to whom Hogarth has accorded a conspicuous place in the first plate of his Harlot's Progress. Pope describes him as "a man infamous for all manner of vices," and thus introduces him into his third Moral Essay:—
"Riches in effect, No grace of Heaven, or token of th' Elect; Given to the fool, the mad, the vain, the evil, To Ward, to Waters, Chartres, and the devil!"
He died in Scotland, in 1731, at the age of sixty-two. The populace, at his funeral, raised a great riot, almost tore the body out of the coffin, and cast dead dogs, etc. into the grave along with it.-E.
(404) See the note to vol. i. p. 314, letter 101.-E.
(405) For a refutation of Walpole's assertion, that Bishop Hayter was a natural son of bishop Blackbourn's, see vol. ii. p. 100, letter 39.-E.
Letter 205 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Dec. 19, 1780. (page 263)
I cannot leave you for a moment in error, my good Sir, when you transfer a compliment to me, to which I have not the most slender claim, and defraud another of it to whom it is due.
The friend of Mr. Gray, in whom authorship caused no jealousy or variance, as Mr. Mainwaring says truly, is Mr. Mason. I certainly never excelled in poetry, and never attempted the species of poetry alluded to, odes. Dr. Lort, I suppose, is removing to a living or a prebend, at least; I hope so. He may run a risk if he carries his book to Lambeth. "Sono sonate venti tre ore e mezza," as Alexander VIII. said to his nephew, when he was chosen pope in extreme old age. My Lord of Canterbury's is not extreme, but very tottering. I found in Mr. Gough's new edition, that in the Pepysian library is a view of the theatre in Dorset Gardens, and views of four or five other ancient great mansions. Do the folk of Magdalen ever suffer copies of such things to be taken? If they would, is there any body at Cambridge that could execute them, and reasonably? Answer me quite at your leisure; and, also, what and by whom is the altar- piece that Lord Carlisle has given to King's. I did not know he had been of our college. I have two or three plates of Strawberry more than those you mention; but my collections are so numerous, and from various causes my prints have been in such confusion, that at present I neither know where the plates or proofs are. I intend next summer to set about completing my plan of the Catalogue and its prints; and when I have found any of the plates or proofs, you shall certainly have those you want. There are two large views of the house, one of the cottage, one of the library, one of the front to the road, and the chimney-piece in the Holbein room. I think these are all that are finished—oh! yes, I believe the prior's garden; but I have not seen them these two years. I was so ill the summer before last, that I attended to nothing; the little I thought of in that way last summer, was to get out my last volume of the Anecdotes; now I have nothing to trouble myself about as an editor, and that not publicly, but to finish my Catalogue—and that will be awkwardly enough; for so many articles have been added to my collection since the description was made, that I must add them in the appendix or reprint it: and, what is more inconvenient, the positions of many of the pictures have been changed; and so it will be a lame piece of work. Adieu, my dear Sir! Yours most cordially.
Letter 206 To Sir David Dalrymple.(406) Berkeley Square, Jan. 1, 1781. (page 264)
Your favourable opinion of my father, Sir, is too flattering(r to me not to thank you for the satisfaction it gave me. Wit, I think he had not naturally, though I am sure he had none from affectation, as simplicity was a predominant feature in his amiable composition. but he possessed that, perhaps, most true species of wit, which flows from experience and deep knowledge of mankind, and consequently had more in his later than in his earlier years; which is not common to a talent that generally flashes from spirits, though they alone cannot bestow it. When you was once before so good, Sir, as to suggest to me an attempt at writing my father's life, I probably made you one answer that I must repeat now, which is, that a son's encomiums would be attributed to partiality; and with my deep devotion to his memory, I should ever suspect it in myself. But I will set my repugnance in a stronger light, by relating an anecdote not incurious. In the new edition of the Biographia Britannica, Dr. Kippis, the tinker of it, reflecting on my having called the former, Vindicatio Britannica, or Defence of Every body, threatened that when he should come to my father's life he would convince me that the new edition did not deserve that censure. I confess I thought this but an odd sort of historian equity, to reverse scripture and punish the sins of children upon their fathers! However, I said nothing. Soon after Dr. Kippis himself called on me, and in very gracious terms desired I would favour him with anecdotes of my father's life. This was descending a little from his censorial throne, but I took no notice; and only told him, that I was so persuaded of the fairness of my father's character, that I chose to trust it to the most unprejudiced hands; and that all I could consent to was, that when he shall have written it, if he would communicate it to me, I would point out to him any material facts, if I should find any, that were not truly noted. This was all I could contribute. Since that time I have seen in the second volume a very gross accusation of Sir Robert, at second or third hand, and to which the smallest attention must give a negative. Sir Robert is accused of having, out of spite, influenced the House of Commons to expel the late Lord Barrington for the notorious job of the Hamburg lottery.(407) Spite was not the ingredient most domineering in my father's character; but whatever has been said of the corruption or servility of Houses of Commons, when was there one so prostitute, that it would have expelled one of their own members for a fraud not proved, to gratify the vengeance of the minister? and a minister must have been implacable indeed, and a House of Commons profligate indeed, to inflict such a stigma on an innocent man, because he had been attached to a rival predecessor of the minister. It is not less strange that the Hamburgher's son should not have vindicated his parent's memory at the opportunity of the secret committee on Sir Robert, but should wait for a manuscript memorandum of Serjeant Skinner after the death of this last. I hope Sir Robert will have no such apologist!
I do not agree less with you, Sir, in your high opinion of King William. I think, and a far better judge, Sir Robert, thought that Prince one of the wisest men that ever lived. Your bon-mot of his was quite new to me. There are two or three passages in the Diary of the second Earl of Clarendon that always struck me as instances of wisdom and humour at once, particularly his Majesty's reply to the lords who advised him (I think at Salisbury,) to send away King James; and his few words, after long patience, to that foolish lord himself, who harangued him on the observance of his declaration. Such traits, and several of Queen Anne (not equally deep) in the same journal, paint those princes as characteristically as Lord Clarendon's able father would have drawn them. There are two letters in the "Nugae Antiquae," that exhibit as faithful pictures of Queen Elizabeth and James the First, by delineating them in their private life and unguarded hours.
You are much in the right, Sir, in laughing at those wise personages, who not only dug up the corpse of Edward the First, but restored Christian burial to his crown and robes. Methinks, had they deposited those regalia in the treasury of the church, they would have committed no sacrilege. I confess I have not quite so heinous an idea of sacrilege as Dr. Johnson. Of all kinds of robbery, that appears to me the lightest species which injures nobody. Dr. Johnson is so pious, that in his journey to your country, he flatters himself that all his readers will join him in enjoying the destruction of two Dutch crews, who were swallowed up by the ocean after they had robbed a church.(408) I doubt that uncharitable anathema is more in the spirit of the Old Testament than of the New.
(406) Now first published.
(407) See ant'e, p. 201, letter 147.-E.
(408) The following are Johnson's words:—"The two churches of Elgin were stripped, and the lead was shipped to be sold in Holland: I hope every reader will rejoice that this cargo of sacrilege was lost at sea."-E.
Letter 207 To The Hon. H. S. Conway. January 3, 1781. (page 266)
After I had written my note to you last night, I called on * * * * who gave me the dismal account of Jamaica,(409) that you will see in the Gazette, and of the damage done to our shipping. Admiral Rowley is safe; but they are in apprehensions for Walsingham. He told me too what is not in the Gazette; that of the expedition against the Spanish settlements, not a single man survives! The papers to-day, I see, speak of great danger to Gibraltar.
Your brother repeated to me his great desire that you should publish your speech,(410) as he told you. I do not conceive why he is so eager for it, for he professes total despair about America. It looks to me as if there was a wish of throwing the blame somewhere; but I profess I am too simple to dive into the objects of shades of intrigues: nor do I care about them. We shall be reduced to a miserable little island; and from a mighty empire sink into as insignificant a country as Denmark or Sardinia! When our trade and marine are gone, the latter of which we keep up by unnatural efforts, to which our debt will put a stop, we shall lose the East Indies as Portugal did; and then France will dictate to us more imperiously than ever we did to Ireland, which is in a manner already gone too! These are mortifying reflections, to -which an English mind cannot easily accommodate itself. But, alas! we have been pursuing the very conduct that France would have prescribed, and more than with all her presumption she could have dared to expect. Could she flatter herself that we would take no advantage of the dilatoriness and unwillingness of Spain to enter into the war? that we would reject the disposition of Russia to support us? and that our still more natural friend, Holland,(411) would be driven into the league against us? All this has happened; and, like an infant, we are delighted with having set our own frock in a blaze! I sit and gaze with astonishment at our frenzy. Yet why? Are not nations as liable to intoxication as individuals? Are not predictions founded on calculation oftener rejected than the prophecies of dreamers? Do we not act precisely like Charles Fox, who thought he had discovered a new truth in figures, when he preached that wise doctrine, that nobody could want money that would pay enough for it? The consequence was, that in two years he left himself without the possibility of borrowing a shilling. I am not surprised at the spirits of' a boy of parts; I am not surprised at the people; I do wonder at government, that games away its consequence. For what are we now really at war with America, France, Spain, and Holland!—Not with hopes of reconquering America; not with the smallest prospect of conquering a foot of land from France, Spain, or Holland. No; we are at war on the defensive to protect what is left, or more truly to stave off, for a year perhaps, a peace that must proclaim our nakedness and impotence. I would not willingly recur to that womanish vision of something may turn up in our favour! That something must be a naval victory that will annihilate at once all the squadrons of Europe—must wipe off forty millions of new debt—reconcile the affections of America, that for six years we have laboured to alienate; and that must recall out of the grave the armies and sailors that are perished- -and that must make thirteen provinces willing to receive the law, without the necessity of keeping ten thousand men amongst them. The gigantic imagination of Lord Chatham would not entertain such a chimera. Lord * * * * perhaps would say he did, rather than not undertake; or Mr. Burke could form a metaphoric vision that would satisfy no imagination but his own: but I, who am nullius addiclus itrare in verba, have no hopes either in our resources or in our geniuses, and look on my country already as undone! It is grievous—but I shall not have much time to lament its fall!(412)
(409) On the 3d of October occurred one of the most dreadful hurricanes ever experienced in the West Indies. In Jamaica, Savannah la Mar, with three hundred inhabitants, was utterly swept away by an irruption of the sea; and at Barbados, on the 10th, Bridgetown, the capital of the island, was almost levelled to the ground, and several thousands of the inhabitants perished.-E.
(410) "Introductory of a motion for leave to bring in a bill for quieting the troubles that have for some time subsisted between Great Britain and America, and enabling his Majesty to send out commissioners with full power to treat with America for that purpose." The motion was negatived by 123 against 81. For the speech of General Conway, and a copy of his proposed bill, see Parl. History, vol, Nxi. pp. 570, 588.-E.
(411) Mr. Henry Laurens, president of the American council, having been taken by one of the King's frigates early in October 1780, on his passage to Holland, and it being discovered by the papers in his possession that the American States had been long carrying on a secret correspondence with Amsterdam, Sir Joseph Yorke, the British minister at the Hague, demanded a satisfactory explanation; but the same not being afforded, hostilities against Holland were declared on the 28th of December 1780.-E.
(412) To this passage the editor of Walpole's Works subjoined, in March 1798, the following note:—"It may be some comfort, in a moment no less portentous and melancholy than the one here described, to recollect the almost unhoped-for recovery of national prosperity, which took place from the peace of 1782 to the declaration of war against France in the year 1793. May our exertions procure the speedy application of a similar remedy to our present evils, and may that remedy be productive of equally good effects!"-E.
Letter 208 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. Berkeley Square, Feb. 7, 1781. (page 268)
Dear Sir, I will not leave you a moment in suspense about the safety of your very valuable volume, which you have so kindly sent me, and which I have just received, with the enclosed letters, and your other yesterday. I have not time to add a word more at present, being full of business, having the night before last received an account of Lady Orford's death at Pisa,(413) and a copy of her will, which obliges me to write several letters, and to see my relations. She has left every thing in her power to her friend Cavalier Mozzi, at Florence; but her son comes into a large estate, besides her great jointure. You may imagine, how I lament that he had not patience to wait sixteen months, before he sold his pictures!
I am very sorry you have been at all indisposed. I will take the utmost care of your fifty-ninth volume (for which I give you this receipt), and will restore it the instant I have had time to go through it. Witness my hand.
(413) See vol. i. p. 243, letter 61.-E.
Letter 209 To The Rev. Mr. Cole. February 9, 1781. (page 268)
I had not time, dear Sir, when I wrote last, to answer your letter, nor do more than cast an eye on your manuscripts. To say the truth, my patience is not tough enough to go through Wolsey's negotiations. I see that your perseverance was forced to make the utmost efforts to transcribe them. They are immeasurably verbose, not to mention the blunders of the first copyist. As I road only for amusement, I cannot, so late in my life, purchase information on what I do not much care about, at the price of a great deal of ennui. The old wills at the end of your volume diverted me much more than the obsolete politics. I shall say nothing about what you call your old leaven. Every body must judge for himself in those matters: nor are you or I of an age to change long-formed opinions, as neither of us is governed by self-interest. Pray tell me how I may most safely return your volume. I value all your manuscripts so much, that I should never forgive myself, if a single one came to any accident by your so obligingly lending them to me. They are great treasures, and contain something or other that must suit most tastes: not to mention your amazing industry, neatness, legibility, with notes, arms, etc. I know no such repositories. You will receive with your manuscript Mr. Kerrick's and Mr. Gough's letters. The former is very kind. The inauguration of the Antiquated Society is burlesque and so is the dearth of materials for another volume; can they ever want such rubbish as compose their preceding annals?
I think it probable that story should be stone: however, I never piqued myself on recording every mason. I have preserved but too many that did not deserve to be mentioned. I dare to say, that when I am gone, many more such will be added to my volumes. I had not heard of poor Mr. Pennant's misfortune. I am very sorry for it, for I believe him to be a very honest good-natured man. He certainly was too lively for his proportion of understanding, and too impetuous to make the best use of what he had. However, it is a credit to us antiquaries to have one of our class disordered by vivacity. I hope your goutiness is dissipated, and that this last fine week has set you on your feet again.
Letter 210 To The Earl Of Buchan.(414) Berkeley Square, Feb. 10, 1781. (page 269)
I was honoured yesterday with your lordship's card, with the notification of the additional honour of my being elected an honourary member of the Society of the Antiquaries of Scotland;(415) a grace, my lord, that I receive with the respect and gratitude due to so valuable a distinction; and for which I must beg leave, through your lordship's favour, to offer my most sincere and humble thanks to that learned and respectable Society. My very particular thanks are still due to your lordship, who, in remembrance of ancient partiality, have been pleased, at the hazard of your own judgment, to favour an old humble servant, who can only receive honour from, but can reflect none on, the Society into which your lordship and your associates have condescended to adopt him. In my best days, my lord, I never could pretend to more than having flitted over some flowers of knowledge. Now worn out and near the end of my course, I can Only be a broken monument to prove that the Society of the Antiquaries of Scotland are zealous to preserve even the least valuable remains of a former age, and to recompense all who have contributed their mite towards illustrating our common island. I am, etc.
(414) Now first printed.
(415) The Royal Society of Antiquaries of Scotland had been formed at Edinburgh in the preceding December, when the Earl of Buchan was elected president.-E.
Letter 211 To Sir David Dalrymple.(416) Strawberry Hill, Feb. 10, 1781. (page 270)
I was very intimate, Sir, with the last Lord Finlater when he was Lord Deskford. We became acquainted at Rome on our travels, and though during his illness and long residence in Scotland, we had no intercourse, I had the honour of seeing him sometimes during his last visit to England; but I am an entire stranger to the anecdote relative to my father and Sir William Windham. I have asked my brother, who was much more conversant in the scenes of that time, for I was abroad when Sir William died, and returned to England but about six months before my father's retirement, so that having been at school and at Cambridge, or in my infancy, during Sir Robert's administration, the little I retain from him was picked up in the last three years of his life, which is an answer, Sir, to your inquiries why, among other reasons, I have always declined writing his life; for I could in reality say but little on my own knowledge; and yet should have the air of being good authority, at least better than I should truly be. My brother, Sir Edward, who is eleven years older than I am, never heard of your anecdote. I may add, that latterly I lived in great intimacy with the Marchioness of Blandford, Sir William's widow, who died but a year and a half ago at Sheepe, here in my neighbourhood; and with Lady Suffolk, who could not but be well acquainted with the history of those times from her long residence at court, and with whom, for the last five or six years of her life here at Twickenham, I have had many and many long conversations on those subjects, and yet I never heard a word of the supposed event you mention. I myself never heard Sir W. William speak but once in the House of Commons, but have always been told that his style and behaviour were most liberal and like a gentleman and my brother says, there never passed any bitterness or acrimony between him and our father.(417)